Without trusted relationships in business, what do you have?
Suspicion. Wondering whether the other person has your best interests or their own really at heart. Worry about what another person’s motives really are.
Obviously none of these are overly conducive to building trusted relationships that drive collaboration, winning work and people simply enjoying working with other people. Most people I speak to know that trust is important, but don’t really understand what it actually means to build trust – they see it as something intangible, something that takes a long time, and something that feels potentially hard to do.
Recently I was fortunate to have a chat with Duff Watkins for the AmCham Podcast. We talked a lot about what it takes for people and organisations to build trust and be seen as more trustworthy, and I wanted to share a few of those ideas with you.
Firstly, here are three things that you can personally do to be seen as more trustworthy:
- Give a damn. You need to genuinely care about your client or customer, and you can’t fake it.
- Have the skills and confidence to help your client. Identify areas where you might need to develop some skills, or how you can build your confidence. In our world, confidence comes not just from the stuff you know (your authority) but the ability to have impact by asking great questions. Focus on how you can build your impact skills in order to be seen as more trustworthy.
- Know and understand what value is to your client way beyond the thing you sell. Because focusing on the thing you sell is self-oriented, and doesn’t show that you give a damn beyond making a sale.
And there are certain things that organisations can do to help support these behaviours and drive trustworthiness too:
- Think about the way you recruit and promote. Historically, firms have focused on recruiting technical specialists, who have risen the ranks taken on the responsibility for client relationships, which many are uncomfortable with. Increasingly I am seeing the most client centric firms do this differently – such as only employing graduates who have worked in a customer service role throughout University, increasing their chances of being service focused. Think differently about who you recruit and promote into client facing roles.
- Identify and address any skills gaps. For a technical expert who has been successfully winning work for the past 20 years, the need for change can be tough to see. But change is needed for many, as the way client’s buy is changing. Solutions are now often a given, and your technical expertise can be hard to position as a differentiator.
- Create a culture of risk-taking. By their nature, many of the firms I work with – accountants, engineers, lawyers – are risk averse. But to build trust, people have to be able to step outside of their comfort zones in the way they interact with their clients – and they will only do this if they feel the organisation will support them to do so.
If you’re interested in hearing more of my conversation with Duff about trust in business, you can find the podcast here.